Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Book Review: Found Footage Fiction

The mainstream image of the horror fan1 is that of a (white) teenage (maladjusted) boy wearing a heavy metal t-shirt on his way to a masturbation session.

The mainstream also believes NATO attacked Libya to save the Libyan people.

1 The current vernacular is ‘Fanboy’. Note the term itself is pejorative.

I’m a middle aged African-British male. My adjustment (to the mainstream) is a matter of perspective. I don’t wear heavy metal t-shirts although I do listen to Straight Line Stitch. My sexual practises will remain private – between me and my next victim.
Alexis Brown of Straight Line Stitch (not my next victim)

The horror fan drinks from the cup poured by the Masters of Horror; Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George A Romero, David Cronenberg. The horror fan does not restrict him/herself to the movies. Some read comics. Some more read novels; Stephen King, Clive Barker, Mary Shelly. The list is exhaustive.

Horror movies have discovered a new subgenre. Now in its second decade of popularity the found footage film dominates the box office2. It is apropos that the format has been claimed by horror as the genre as a whole is refuge to the low budget filmmaker.

21st century technology has given us the ebook. It is the refuge for the writer ignored by the major publishing houses. In today’s corporate market those of us without a media presence (ie non-celebrities) are shunned by the majors. It is a good thing that Shakespeare, Dickens and Orwell did not start their careers today.

Whimsical Doctor Shoe is an ebook by way of Amazon’s Kindle. It is written by Ricky Sprague. He is one of the best contemporary writers in English I have read. He too has struggled in finding a publisher despite the fact that two literary agents believed in this book. 21st century technology is a good thing.

The films of David Cronenberg are universally described as ‘body horror’. According to John Carpenter Cronenberg asserts his films are not horror. Ricky Sprague makes no claim that Whimsical Doctor Shoe is body horror – so I’ll do it for him.

Reuss Spitnode is a conjoined twin. Or he was. He disappeared in September of last year. A removal man found this manuscript of the missing millionaire between the mattresses of his bed. The bed was covered with faeces and urine.

How the rich lived.

The manuscript details the Spitnode twins’ quest for separation. What nature has conjoined let no whimsical doctor cut asunder. There is no mystery to the result of the operation. Ruess writes

“Brother is dead, not me.”

There is mystery in the German doctor who performed the operation and yet cannot be traced through his forged credentials. The mystery is his motives for the promised perversion and sadism. The mystery is if he ever existed. This manuscript could well be the testament of a madman.
doctors can be evil too
Sprague has a way with words. His prose is akin to a conductor of an amateur choir that brings tears to the eyes of cynics with their rendition of the national anthem. The beauty of the weaving of his words entraps the reader. Intrigue sets in the second paragraph of the introduction by Charles Hoerner. Reuss’ testimony is repugnant. It is irresistible. The reader is snared.

I must declare an interest. Sprague is a Facebook friend of mine. I’ve been reading his blog soon after I started mine. This was in 2009 when we both wrote about reality TV courtesy of VH1. I Love Money and all of that. He has been supportive of my work and I value his judgement.

Be aware that this is not a quid pro quo. Every word a man says he will be judged upon. Every word he should have said but did not say – he will be judged on that too. Most celebrities, politicians, professional athletes and other celebrities lie about the words they said on camera or try to minimise them. The same goes for the general public. I write words. I cannot take them back. My reputation depends on them – as a writer and as a man.

I was being facetious when I called Sprague a Facebook friend. I’ve never met the man but perhaps one day I will. It may be at a book signing for the hardback publication of Whimsical Doctor Shoe. It may be at the Bram Stoker Awards or the binge drinking afterwards. I look forward to it.

This review is of the first two chapters of WhimsicalDoctor Shoe and not the whole novel. Clink the link above to read the sample on Sprague’s blog Project Child Murdering Robot. Should you decide to buy it you can marvel at the price tag. Sprague is the epitome of a writer. He wants to tell you a story. To give is to receive.

Thrill Fiction recommends 10 Best Horror Films of 2011
2 Found Footage Movies Box Office Mojo
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